Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Food for Thought

Quite literally. Over the last few days, I've watched three documentaries on Netflix:

  1. Hungry For Change
  2. Chemerical: Redefining Clean for a New Generation
  3. America The Beautiful 2: The Thin Commandments
Hungry For Change focuses on food additives and how they effect the body. Food companies, in the interest of maximizing profits, add compounds to food that extend the shelf life of the product, that create a desire for more in the consumer, etc. A longer shelf life reduces waste and the accompanying loss; to a business, especially in food, waste is money in the garbage. By creating a desire for more, consumers keep coming back for more, they keep eating more and buying more so the company makes more money. The example that really struck me was the combination of aspartame and caffeine in diet soda. Until recently, I could easily down more than 40 ounces of diet soda in a day. I loved the stuff. Well, that wasn't entirely my own doing. The combination is addictive. As it leaves your system, you want more of it. 

Chemerical focuses on man-made chemicals in every day products, the combination and concentration of which pollutes the air in your home. It can have an adverse effect on individuals with asthma, and there are even some people who are so sensitive to chemicals and fragrances that they cannot lead a "normal" life. The documentary follows a family of five as they make the change to natural cleaners, dominated by white vinegar and baking soda. They progress to making their own personal hygiene products, too. After one month, the air quality in their home is measurably better, and the entire family reported feeling better. 

America The Beautiful focuses on our society's obsession with weight and dieting, and looks at the health aspect. This one is hard to summarize, because it doesn't really find it's direction until the end. It argues that you can be both healthy and overweight, that losing weight may not eliminate all of your health problems but it may eliminate some, and that you can be both unhealthy and thin. It also debunks the BMI as something a mathematician (with no medical training) made up to express a population's average weight and height (as opposed to that of an individual, which is how it is most commonly used). 


The first had me window-shopping for juicers and organic produce, the second made me want to toss out the rest of our cleaning products (I already use vinegar and baking soda for some things). The third had me reconsidering both. Are these extremes? Are they taking it too far? Do they take it far enough?

I do want to be healthier, and I am heavier than I'd like to be; despite the Biggest Loser contest at work I haven't been as diligent as I should. We are hoping to expand our family, and so a healthy body and a healthy home are both important. But too much of a good thing isn't good. 

So, my takeaways:
  • We're going organic
  • We're adding more vegetables to our diet
  • We're steering away from processed foods
  • I'm going to replace store-bought cleaning products with homemade, natural ones
  • I'm going to exercise daily
I am NOT going to:
  • I'm not going to obsess over every single calorie
  • I'm not going to exercise multiple times per day
  • I'm not going to make myself feel bad after enjoying a treat

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